Uber’s Food Delivery Business Nearly Matches Ride-Sharing

While Uber’s ride-hailing business remains slow because of travel restrictions related to the pandemic, the company said on Wednesday that its food delivery business was booming.

Uber said its overall revenue in the fourth quarter of last year was $3.2 billion, a 16 percent decline from the previous year. Its losses for the quarter, $968 million, were a 12 percent improvement.

Ride hailing declined precipitously during the early days of the pandemic. Although there has been some recovery, Uber is still not back where it was at the beginning of 2019.

But food delivery has been a bright spot. Delivery orders were up 128 percent, while bookings for rides were down 47 percent from the fourth quarter of 2019, the company said. Uber Eats, the company’s delivery arm, brought in $1.35 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter and nearly out-earned the rides business, which brought in $1.47 billion.

The question for Wall Street is whether Uber Eats is growing faster than competitors like Grubhub and DoorDash, which reports its earnings later this month. “The focus is on growth,” said Tom White, a senior research analyst at D.A. Davidson. “Who is gaining market share?”

Uber sold off several of its unprofitable business ventures over the last year, including its autonomous vehicle development group and its bike and scooter rental business. It doubled down on delivery, acquiring Postmates, a competing food delivery company, and Drizly, an alcohol delivery service.

“While 2020 certainly tested our resilience, it also dramatically accelerated our capabilities in local commerce, with our delivery business more than doubling over the year,” Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive, said in a statement.

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